We all talk about how blessed we are with the arts and culture scene here in Mazatlán. When is the last time you made it inside the art museum? Right now they have two incredible exhibitions running that are well worth your time!
The first is a photography exhibit that was over a year in the making, as it was Sichem Rizo Alvarez’s final project for his master’s in photography in Barcelona. You may have seen some of his imaginary Carnaval Queen photos that are reminiscent of Tammy Faye-Baker’s mascara-streaked, tearful face. The first time I saw one I thought, “cool, but a bit cliché.” Then I went to the exhibit! Sichem has combined his photographs with a narration that speaks to the power of Carnaval royalty, of our local “royal” dynasties in which great-grandma, grandma, mom and daughter have all been queens, the high highs of the week-long festivities followed by the letdown lows many royals can feel afterwards. He has set the exhibit up with lighting reminiscent of our iconic Mazatlán Carnaval lights. I black drape divides the space into before and after Carnaval. His mother stitched up the queen’s dress, which is displayed on a mannequin. Titled “Queen of Gold Tinsel,” (Reina de Oropel) the exhibit speaks to the ephemeral nature of beauty, youth and fame. You will find it in the gallery on the left as you enter the art museum downtown. Click on any photo to enlarge it or view a slideshow.
The second exhibit resides in the gallery to the left of the stairs. It may look like another photography show, but it is a retrospective of the oil paintings of a young man from El Habal, José Luis Tirado Lizárraga. His work is so incredibly realistic that I honestly kept doubting it was oil painted! He works with a dry brush, so it’s hard to see any paint on the paper or canvas, and much of the framed work on paper is under glass, making it look like a print. But the television will show video of how he sketches and then freehand paints with incredibly life-like detail. What an amazing talent!
As always, entry to our state-government-sponsored art museum is free of charge. The exhibits will be there all of March, so be sure to stop in. They are open 9-3 Tuesday through Saturday except on Wednesday they close at 1 pm. Address is Sixto Osuna and Venustiano Carranza downtown, tel. 669-981-5592.
Culiacán, in general, is not my favorite getaway from Mazatlán. I’ve gone there for concerts, art exhibits, CostCo and an occasional weekend away. I do very much enjoy a long walk along Parque Las Riberas, 12 km along the rivers, especially in the evening when the bridges are lit up (cycling, pedal boats and kayaks are also popular). I love spending time in botanic gardens, and Culiacan’s is beautiful, including plants as well as modern architecture and art: well worth a visit and perhaps a picnic on the grounds. Other people gravitate to Jardines del Humaya, the world-famous narco cemetery with its lavish mausoleums (If you want to visit, I recommend you go with a local in the morning). Thus, I’ve always felt that if I needed to go to Culiacán for some reason or another, there are things to do and see, but not much to pull me there eagerly.
That opinion changed radically earlier this week when I accompanied a couple of friends there for the day. What was it that delighted my soul? The newly refurbished Sinaloa Science Center Museum, MATERIA. I would describe it as a hybrid of a science and an art museum, one in which all the interactive exhibits work and are truly astounding! Click on any photo to enlarge it or view a slideshow.
The building itself is a gorgeous piece of architecture, at least on the inside, with angular shapes and the light streaming in through windows on all sides. The main attraction is Sideral, a huge meteorite that fell in a small nearby pueblo in the early 1800s. The museum has the large meteorite front and center in the main gallery. Over it is a gorgeous moveable wooden pendulum that moves several times a day (we attended at 3:30 pm) and generates a song, resonating to the magnetic frequencies of the minerals in the meteorite and of the people nearby. It is magical and completely mesmerizing! HIGHLY recommended!
In several galleries surrounding Sideral are art installations that, we were told, change every six months. I very much enjoyed what was there now, with two standing out for me: an exhibition of hanging glass called “meteor shower,” and a hammock holding five or six irregularly shaped geometric pieces; the shadows of the light on the floor were hexagons for each, thus showing us the power of perspective.
Heading upstairs was another standout exhibition called “Blossoms,” a set of white ceramic-looking kinetic sculptures designed by a Stanford mathematician. They are beautiful, mostly natural forms. When you push the button, they start spinning and the human eye tells us they move in entrancing ways.
We had only been in the museum maybe thirty minutes, and I was enthralled. The docents were all young but incredibly knowledgeable; some of the most outstanding I’ve encountered in Latin America. Kudos! One of them invited us to enter the IMAX-like theater to watch the show at 4:00 pm: Cubo Negro 8K. 8K is an immersive projection of images unlike any I’ve experienced before, the only one of its kind on our continent, I was told. Again, HIGHLY recommended. This was actually my favorite part of what I saw at the museum. We experienced going into space, via projections on the large screen and the floor. We felt that we spent some time on the Space Station, and then travelled through several nebulae. Definitely not to be missed.
There was significantly more to see at MATERIA, but we needed to leave Culiacán to make it home before it got too dark. If you go, I’d recommend you plan to also spend some time in the Botanic Garden as it’s right next door. While I did not experience the James Turrell light exhibit, “Encounter,” the only one of its kind in Latin America, I have attended two other exhibits of his and can wholeheartedly recommend them. There is one show at dawn and another at dusk, Thursdays through Sundays, and you need reservations. The show lasts one hour and costs 150 pesos.
Where to Stay Since Encounter is at dusk or dawn, it makes sense to spend the night. Culiacán offers hotels at all price ranges. One conveniently located, very nice hotel that I can recommend is the Wyndham Executive. It is very near the MASIN: the Sinaloa Art Museum and it’s GAALS (Galería Antonio López Sáenz). The MASIN is a gorgeous early 1800s building with an arched central courtyard. Permanent galleries are downstairs and temporary ones up top. GAALS usually has a main professional art exhibit downstairs, and a series of student or young professional exhibits upstairs. I thoroughly enjoyed both. While the websites say these museums are open Tuesday-Sunday, I believe that during the pandemic they are only open Thursday through Sunday. We got in, but we had special permission and a private tour.
Around the corner from the art museums is a darling little coffee shop well worth your visit—TantoGusto. They have a diverse collection of brewing devices from around the world, are very welcoming, and serve sandwiches and pastries.
If you do spend the night, don’t miss out on a visit to Mirador La Lomita, the church of Our Lady of Guadalupe, with its panoramic view of the city. Day and night the view is very good. The cathedral is also worth a visit, as is Tomateros stadium. I have never visited the MIA Museum, but it is the world’s only museum dedicated to addictions.
Karly B, or Karla Susana Becerra Salazar’s eye-catching designs of the monuments of Mazatlán originally caught my eye on Instagram. She came to our home for an interview—we met with masks and safe social distancing—and I’m happy to say I am the proud purchaser of several sets of eight stickers with images of the Landmarks of Mazatlán, ready for my gifting pleasure.
The stickers are her very first product and cost only 50 pesos a pack. They are colorful, thin and light—easy to mail to friends and relatives out of town or keep in a purse for easy gifting. Karly made a second series of Valentine’s designs that I also love, and is working on a whole bunch of designs that she animatedly explains to me, “are filling my head and demanding to get out!” Click on any photo to enlarge it or view a slideshow.
Karly is a 32 year old mother of two young sons, seven years and seven months old. Mazatlecan-born, she graduated from Instituto Anglo Moderno so speaks English well, then studied graphic design at the University of Guadalajara. There she worked for international and domestic clients at One Simple Idea, a creative agency. She missed home greatly, and the family returned here late last year due to the pandemic. Her husband is also a graphic designer, from La Paz, who currently works in video game design.
KarlyB Illustration is out to upgrade the caliber of tourist souvenirs in our fair city. She wants to put her designs on stickers, wall papers, mugs and t-shirts as well as framed prints. She is currently working for private clients as well, including our friend Ocean Rodriguez, who has commissioned her to do a series of his Carnaval floats from last year. “The only thing holding me back is time. I need more of it!” she jokes.
For the past six years Karly has been envisioning a set of lotería (Mexican bingo) cards specific to Mazatlán, but she didn’t follow through and the Mazatleco has now beat her to that idea. He actually contacted her about a pulmonía image she designed back in 2012. She felt she had learned so much in the years since that original design that she took the opportunity to create what she feels is a much-improved version this year, with smoother lines and better design.
She described to me how she works in Illustrator or PhotoShop on a large tablet with a stylus. She creates everything from start to finish digitally, from composition and draft sketches to drawing line art, coloring, adding detail and exporting. She tells me she does quite a bit of research, particularly reviewing photos, prior to beginning her designs. “I have to exaggerate to get perspective. I made our little heart plaza look more like a heart. The malecón is so long that I shrink it in my designs, and the angle of the Hotel Hacienda isn’t the best from the street so I change it up,” she explains.
“Mazatlecos love Mazatlán; we love our city perhaps more than any other people I can think of,” Karly says. I shared my hope that her designs might leverage the pride residents feel for our city and teach them the value of preserving our history, heritage, values and environment—preserving landmarks such as Valentino’s rather than razing it, caring for our waterways rather than littering them, and showing more community responsibility.
I am often saddened that our local souvenir offerings are so stale and repetitive. It’s great to see a vibrant series of modern designs based on iconic images of our beloved Mazatlán. Karly’s work is perfect for tourists and visitors as well as local residents. And I love to support a woman entrepreneur! You can purchase prints, stickers or any of her upcoming work by contacting Karly via WhatsApp: 669-289-3375 or email.
Interview of Guadalupe Aguilar by Ernestina Yépiz, translation by Dianne Hofner Saphiere
This article first appeared in Spanish in the online magazine Fogones: La poética del paladar. I share this translation here because Guadalupe is a terrific local artist whose work I much admire. I encourage VidaMaz readers to get to know her work. Guadalupe also makes and sells kombucha here in town.
The work of Guadalupe Aguilar, together with and in each of the creations that compose it—which in each one is complete also—establish a dialogue, almost an intimate conversation, with the landscape, poetry, writing, the creative process and creation itself. In this context her artistic vision is to permit yourself to be touched by the subtle, experiment the sublime and get a hold of the ungraspable: that which is so fleeting that we can only feel it and make it our own at the instant or sum of moments of the aesthetic experience.
Guadalupe Aguilar holds a PhD in Fine Arts from the Polytechnic University of Valencia and a Master’s in Art History from the Faculty of Philosophy and Letters of UNAM. Her creative production has been exhibited nationally and internationally. In her work as a contemporary artist she explore the relationship between art and nature; she does the same with philosophy and poetry. In her work she uses forms of expression and manifestation including installations, video, weaving, writing, drawing and sculpture.
Several exhibitions stand out in her artistic career: Über das gluck or The way of the possible, at the Cultural Institute of Mexico in Austria in 2005; The water in a thread in the Kunsthalle Krems, Austria in 2006; Words in flight, in La sala Naranja in Valencia, Spain in 2007; in 2008 Agudeza or Acuity at the Huuto Gallery in Helsinski, Finland; Inverted shipwreck in Culiacán, in 2011; Filiform Suns in the Contemporary Gallery at the University of the Cloister of Sor Juana in Mexico City in 2012; Armonía or Harmony in the Gaals, in Culiacán, Sinaloa in 2016; Rangoli-Solitaire in Mysore, India in 2016.
Currently, in one of the galleries of the Museum of Art of Sinaloa, Guadalupe Aguilar is exhibiting Azul profundo or Deep Blue, a sculptural piece in which she dialogues with the marine watercolors and drawings of Maestro Edgardo Coghlan. That very intimate conversation is the theme of this interview. Click any photo to enlarge it or view a slideshow.
What sparked the idea of creating Deep Blue? It all started with my reflections and readings on our inner consciousness of time, precepts taken from the philosophy of Edmund Hüsserl, primarily. The idea initially was to make a cut in the surface of the sea, with the aim of detaining the incessant coming and going of the sea’s dermis, but not it an image but rather in an object, and that is how the piece came to be. I now live so close to the ocean that these past two years I have reflected on the infinity of its surface and all it holds.
The environment and the landscape always influence. Yes, although if I go a bit further back, I believe this idea began to germinate in my mind in 2006 or 2007, when I lived in front of a mighty river. The movement of the current got me to thinking about the fleetingness of nature and its ephemeral forms. So, I captured these thoughts in a video and sculpture. The project was titled, El agua en un hilo, The water in a thread, and it was comprised of two reticular cuts in the flow of the current, where the common thread between the two pieces, the video and the sculpture, is the Danube, in a cube and in pixels.
Certainly, contemplating the water in a thread leads us to the abstraction of thinking about the flow of time. Yes, both pieces pose an exercise around the idea of time and invite us to think about the present, the result equates the internal weight of the past and the future. The here and now.
Why did you choose the Masin (Museum of Art of Sinaloa) for the Deep Blue exhibition? In 2011 I exhibited the Otra forma or Other Form there, a piece measuring two square meters and consisting of a grid of pins as a support for geometric parts of the plant world. There I saw for the first time the marinas that Master Edgardo Coghlan made, which tour part of the Sinaloan landscape and geography. Since then, I have dialogued with his work and Deep Blue is the result of that conversation. I consider, moreover, that it is important to explore the Sinaloan landscape, which during this long confinement has been denied to us. It is a good moment to revalue our environment and promote its care.
Does Deep Blue mark a distance from your previous work? I ask not in a conceptual or thematic way, but rather for the type of materials you utilized: paraffin, crystal, metal, steels cables and LED lamps. Distance in the sense of moving away from, no. I actually think that I always repeat myself, including with the type of materials. In addition to the piece described in question one, that corresponds to an installation exhibited in Kunsthalle de Krems, Austria in 2006, I’ve also made drops of resin and clung to the idea of stopping the path of the water drops. Once I made rain with needles and other times sculptures of resin or paraffin. The drops of resin were never exhibited, but the persistent rain of needles was part of the Soles filiformes exhibition which took place in the Contemporary Gallery of the Cloister of Sor Juana.
I had the opportunity to see your poetic-conceptual, visual and auditory proposal. I remember you used paraffin. A lot of time has passed since then. Yes, quite a bit, I believe; it was in 2012.
What was the last exhibition you had prior to Deep Blue? I believe Deep Blue is an obvious continuation of the exhibition mounted just a few months ago in Bauprés Gallery in Mazatlán, which included objects that detain the fugitive forms of the landscape surrounding my Mazatlecan habitat. That exhibit was entitled The Permanence of the Ephemeral.
What artistic projects are you currently working on? A huge imprint of the tormented sea and on stopping the mind.
A Home for Juan Manuel is approaching the finish line, thanks to so many of you! Your generosity and interest in this project have been heartwarming. Juan Manuel and Don Rodolfo are over the moon. It is a great blessing that work continued throughout the holidays; that our builder, Zata, has shown up to work every day; that we haven’t experienced theft of materials or major overruns; and that so many of you have been so generous with your assistance and support. Having said that, our budget is very, very tight coming into the home stretch.
We have collected 86,905 pesos. Thus far we have paid out 59,587 (23,500 in labor, 36,087 in materials), for a remainder of 27,318. We still owe Zata, per his proposal, 23,100 pesos. We had been paying him 5000 per week, but this past week we only paid him 3500 as work had not been completed as quickly as planned and it worries me that work will not be completed before our budget runs out. I would like to have some money left to reward him with a bonus at the end for all his hard work. However, current accounting shows us with only 4218 for the remaining supplies. Click on any photo to enlarge it or see a slideshow.
The architect’s budget did not include doors, windows, electrical, plumbing, any of the fixtures, waterproofing the roof, paint, etc. Live and learn; he only listed supplies for the basic structure itself. Obviously, my dream of putting in a wheelchair ramp for Juan Manuel’s house and for Don José’s next door will not be happening. We have received a very kind donation of a nice used door which, unfortunately, doesn’t fit either of the openings that have been built. We have just found a man who can adapt it to the rear door frame, however, and we are very grateful for that. Another kind lady has promised the final two windows built to size, and we are very grateful for that. Fingers crossed.
This week’s plan includes to finish smoothing the exterior walls, plaster the interior walls, install the junction box, outlets and switches. Next week should be installation of doors and windows.
Can You Help? Door measurements are 96 cm x 295 cm for the front door. Should you have an extra door that meets these size requirements please let us know. A used small ceiling fan would also come in handy, as would one of those small under-counter refrigerators. If you or your friends have money you could spare, it would be wonderful to be able to finish this up by waterproofing the concrete roof. One lady has kindly sewn bed coverings and bought sheets for two mattresses, plus is working to furnish Juan Manuel’s kitchen with used pots, pans, plates and utensils. Please help us get the word out; here is the link to the original post with payment options.
Many thanks and may God and karma shower each of you all with warm, love-filled blessings! As Yolanda reminds me, “have faith; God will provide.” I’m grateful to God, and grateful for each of you as well.